There are many choices in roofing materials used on homes today. Deciding on the roof that is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of roof you currently have, location of your home, climate zone, desired architectural look, maintenance, and cost.
20 Questions To Ask A Roofing Contractor
Before you get started on any new roof or repairs it is prudent to interview several roofing contractors and collect estimates. Experience counts. It’s best to work with experienced, reliable, honest professionals. Ask the following:
- How long have you been a licensed roofing contractor and what’s your state license number? Verify this before considering any roofing contractor’s services.
- How long has the company has been doing business under their current name?
- Are they bonded?
- Has the company declared bankruptcy within the past five years?
- Will they provide business references from within the past year?
- What terms of payment are anticipated?
- How many employees will be assigned to your roofing project?
- Will the foreman be on site? Are the employees working on this project employees of the roofing contractor?
- What type of roofing system does the roofing contractor recommend? Will it require a complete roof tear-off?
- What details can you provide regarding the roofing materials?
- Is the warranty guaranteed?
- What type of ventilation system does the proposed roofing system have?
- What is the best system for this area’s climate?
- Is the new proposed roofing system Energy Star Compliant, with an initial reflectance of at least 65%?
- Does the proposed roofing system meet the ASHRAE 90.1 standard for Federal Tax deduction eligibility?
- What sort of maintenance will be necessary with the new roof?
- Are there prevalent problems that occur with this type of roof?
- How will the contractor handle any problems over the life of the roof?
- What is the life expectancy of the proposed roof?
- What benefits does this roofing system provide?
A new roof installation is a major investment. Move forward only when you are satisfied with the answers to the above questions.
- Cedar shakes provide a traditional look with reliable, modern durability. They are a good choice for historic homes or homes in new developments with high appearance standards. Cedar shakes are an environmentally friendly option also. The life expectancy of cedar shakes is up to 30 years, if quality materials are used. A potential concern with cedar shakes is that many communities will require pressure-treated, fire retardant shakes, which lowers the fire hazard but increases the cost of the materials.
- Composition shingles are widely used on homes in the United States. These are made of an organic or fiberglass base, then saturated with asphalt and coated with minerals on one side to resist weathering. Fiberglass shingles are more flexible and stronger than organic shingles. Both shingles come in a wide variety of colors. The life expectancy of composition shingles ranges from 20 to 30 years. Most manufacturers will cover a composition roof under warranty, if a certified roofer installed it.
- Dimensional shingles are very similar to composition shingles, but are thicker, and can be used to create a better shadow line for each course of shingles. Dimensional shingles also have a much better lifespan, with an expectancy of up to 40 years.
Clay And Concrete Tiles
- Clay tile is usually used in the traditional Spanish look. But, clay is now available in several other patterns. Tile is a very durable material and is able to withstand some of the harshest elements such as hail, wind, and fire. There is one drawback to tiles, however: their weight. They require certain structural standards for the frame and decking of the roof. They have a great life expectancy of 40 to 50 years. Tiles may need to be predrilled and nailed if you have a steep pitch roof, or even supported by metal brackets, all of which could increase the cost associated with this type of roofing system. Most tile manufacturers offer a minimum of a 50 year limited warranty on their products.
- Concrete tile has essentially all of the benefits of clay tile. Concrete tiles also have the advantage of being available in a greater number of styles including traditional clay and slate.
Metal In areas where forests, moss, or heavy precipitation are present, metal roofs are a great solution for a new roof. Usually made of steel, aluminum or copper, metal roofs offer some of the best protection for your home. Metal roofs withstand high winds, shed snow and rain very effectively, and are fire resistant. Metal roofs are very lightweight, weighing about one quarter of the weight of tile roofs and nearly half as much as asphalt shingles. Metal roofing is generally more expensive than asphalt roofing, but cheaper than tile or slate roofing.
When properly installed a metal roof will usually last as long as the house with manufacturer warranties of 50 years.
Slate And Synthetic Slate A slate roof is the most expensive roofing material on the market. It is also the most durable and one of the more attractive solutions. Slate is cut from slabs of stone. The roof tiles are most commonly grey but do occur in a variety of subtle color variations. Slate roofs regularly last over 100 years.
Slate roofs require little maintenance, are resistant to mold and insects, and are fire damage. Slate is a heavy roofing material and can only be used on roofs that are properly supported for such weight. Most residential homes will require additional materials and labor to increase the roofs strength. Quality workmanship is a must for these types of roofs.
Synthetic slate tiles are another option. They are made from a mixture of slate dust and glass fiber resin, or a combination of cement and fiber. Synthetic slate isn’t as brittle as real slate, and it offers many of the same protective qualities.
Environmentally Friendly Roofing Materials Green roofs are on the rise in popularity. They are energy efficient and earth friendly. A green roof covers the traditional roof with vegetation that provides many benefits to the structure and the environment. A green roof will have a number of layers; a soil layer, and layers for drainage and waterproofing, with the vegetation layer on top. The roof may have an irrigation system installed for maintenance of the plants.
There are a number of advantages to having a green roof:
- It reduces much of the heat from the roofs surface.
- It’s a good sound insulator.
- It reduces the amount of pollutants that run off with rainwater from roofs.
- It retains much of the water in the soil and the plants will actually absorb some of the pollutants, purifying the water before it leaves the roof.